Cathedral Catholic’s Model United Nations (MUN) recently returned from a weekend trip to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), during which members took part in conferences and competed in committees.
MUN president, senior Celeste Villa-Rangel, who is a third-year member, said, “The trip to UCLA was a lot of fun. We represented Venezuela [and Tanzania] and discussed solutions to world issues. My topics were the Drug War in Mexico and Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia.”
Conferences typically consist of spending time in committees, where students listen to speeches and then move to caucuses, where they learn about other countries’ policies. Students also band together to write resolutions, or to propose solutions to the problem their committee addresses. Delegates from the “countries” give more speeches, present the resolutions, and then move into voting blocs.
“It’s very intense, but you’re also allowed to pass notes to other countries, which is the best part,” said senior member Katherine Zopatti. “Also, while you’re there, you’re referred to as your country. You don’t learn anyone’s names.”
Senior member Clayton Jaksha, whose Cathedral-grad sister, Alex, is the UCLA MUN chief-of-staff, acted as the delegation from the Holy See (Vatican City) during the General Assembly-Plenary. He said, “UCLA was great! We discussed solutions for the situation in Libya and the global financial crisis.”
“Although being in a committee seems dull, the people you meet and work with make up for it. My partner, Katie Whittington and I met a lot of interesting people in our committee,” said Katherine. “Most notable was “China” and” Nicaragua.” Katherine said she enjoyed exploring the UCLA campus, as well.
Regarding the trip, senior Ian Dillingham said, “I really liked it. It was more intense and realistic than I thought it would be.”
This year’s second MUN trip will take place from March 8th to 11th at the University of California, Berkeley. According to Celeste, the trip costs $450, and those interested must sign up by November 28th. Those who sign up are committed to payments.
Celeste said, “New students are absolutely welcome to participate.”
Katherine encourages other students to participate in MUN trips. One unique perk, she said, is learning to perfect the art of note-passing. “In the age of texting,” she said, “where else do you get to do that?”
MUN meetings occur every other Tuesday in Mr. Don DeAngelo’s room, at Assisi Hall 209, and the next meeting is November 29th. Students interested in joining MUN and attending the next trip must e-mail Celeste at email@example.com or contact her via the MUN Facebook group, “CCHS MUN 2011-2012.”
At the typical MUN meeting, members discuss future trips and conferences. According to Clayton, “MUN conferences are where the actual MUN-ing goes down.”
Celeste said, “I definitely recommend that other students join MUN. The UC Berkeley trip is a lot of fun and a great place to meet new friends – not only other people from your school, but students from all over the world as well.” The trip will also teach students about foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Clayton recommends that students with an affinity for public speaking or attention and a vested interest in global news try MUN at least once. “It sounds super nerdy,” he said. “But it’s very, very, very, very, very fun.” He joined as a freshman, after being introduced by his sister, because he enjoyed public speaking and relevant discussion on global policies.
“I definitely encourage other students to join MUN!” said Katherine. “It’s an experience that opens you up to new cultures and helps you understand international relations. Also, you get to meet new people from other states at conferences, and make new friends within the club itself.”
In participating in MUN, Clayton says he has learned the nuances of compromise. “Many delegations stick to their country’s guns, and it is important to compromise in order to pass resolutions and actually get things done,” he said.
Katherine said, “I’ve learned a lot since joining MUN. When you’re assigned your country and committee, you have to research them. I’m now an expert on Venezuela’s women’s health policies!”
“Typically, MUN conferences have hundreds of delegates and you will meet some very interesting people to say the least,” Clayton said. “It’s not a bad thing… but it’s one of those things can only be understood once you’ve experienced it.”